Coloring (a few) eggs

Between the coronavirus and the kids being at an age that they barely want to eat dinner with us, I debated on whether to get an egg coloring kit or not this year. But my sentimental self could not resist the purchase. After all, I had spent an hour earlier in the day looking at the little nuggets with wide, excited eyes dipping their eggs into the neon colored vinegar and water mix. They got such a thrill over transforming a dull white egg into a burst of oval color.

Tradition – another reason why I decided that we would do it this year. Maria loves keeping with tradition. She was devastated when I told her that we would not be having Christmas Eve at Aunt Susie’s this past year. Susie thought it would be easier for everybody to come in on the weekend before Christmas Eve since all of the cousins have other families they need to see during that time as well. Maria must’ve said 20 times over how ridiculous the change was and how she liked having things the way they always had been. I knew she would be all in for coloring eggs.  Onthe other hand, Mario could have cared less. He wanted to stay sheltered in his gaming room and not be interrupted with tradition. Heck, he was starting his own tradition – playing eight hours straight of NBA 2K during coronavirus. Tradition somitition. Who cares.

I watch the family across the street with two kids under the age of four. They are constantly walking up and down their driveway, drawing with chalk, helping feed baby dolls. I remember Maria and Mario at those ages – how many times Jon and I would say to ourselves “one day, they will do their own thing and we will not have to watch them every waking minute. ” Life is so strange – that when the moment comes when you get exactly what you wished for so many days on end, you want a piece of the past back. You want them to be by your side asking you to play baby dolls or telling you to watch them do a crazy jump off the bed. Now, I open the door to Mario’s gaming room and see him with his headset on talking trash with his buddies like a complete teenager. I watch Maria talking into her computer with her teacher explaining why she thinks certain questions are relevant to a book they are reading. She sounds like she is in college (and looks it, as well). Where have these babies of mine gone?

Yet, every once in a while, they do make a reappearance. Maria jumps into bed with me and Jon as we are watching TV snuggling up with the both of us. Mario grabs my arm as we walk through the woods and stands as close to me as he did as a toddler. The connection is still strong but in a new way.

We squeezed in 15 minutes to color the eggs yesterday. Mario colored around three of them before he was done. He strategically asked to color the eggs while we were prepping for dinner so that as soon as he started coloring them, he had to go back to start cutting the chicken. Maria did the same amount and lost interest in favor of setting the dinner table (however, she did come back to them later on in the evening).

I had to be happy with 15 minutes. I got a few pictures; albeit, not nearly as cute as the ones from years past where they were standing side-by-side and entrenched in the coloring. But we were all present and in the moment talking about how Mario got such a vibrant green egg and how Maria was able to get a peach one for grandma.


I had such high expectations for my two days off work two weeks ago to be with the babes on their Spring Break. I need to learn to temper those expectations….

Thursday was great. I drove out to the farm with Rocco and Mario to pick up Ri and hang out with the family. Mario watched a scary movie in the back and chimed in to me every 15 minutes with what was going on in the chosen scene. He got two packs of donuts on the trip and surprisingly gave up on eating the last two donuts in the second pack because his stomach hurt. One day he will learn. 

We took our routine hike once we arrived. Through the woods to the vine. We had to cajole Rocco down the path so the kids could swing on the vine; it freaks Rocco out completely to see them swing on it. He jumps on them and then tears into the vine as if its an intruder. It began to sprinkle and then downpour on us as we walked along the creek. The kids asked to stay in the woods and play while we went back to the house. It’s great they are at an age they can do that. When I got back, I grabbed a sweatshirt for Mario to take back to him since the wind was picking up. Before I got to their hide-a-way, they were running through the pasture yelling “mom!” They had gotten scared of the thunder. They still do need the comfort of their mama.

We dove into birthday cake when we got back to celebrate Meg’s birthday and played a mean game of Clue.   



We took off before the heavy rain since I turn into a nervous nelly if I have to drive in that stuff.  The kids petted Rocco and we played “would you rather” as we drove home. 

Alana and Gio arrived on Friday morning for our big day at Fort Rapids! We got in our suits and packed snacks and waters and jumped in the truck for a day of bliss sliding down big slides and splashing in the lazy river.


We arrived to a line of folks waiting to enter. This should have been a sign. When we finally got in, the kids dispersed and I found a couple chairs to sit our things on for the day. I went down a slide by myself and looked around for the kids. I found Mario; he looked dejected. He complained that Gio kept leaving him. I grabbed a tube and he and I stood in line for 30 minutes to get on the black slide – he was finally tall enough to go down it with me. That livened him up. After we finished, we walked over to our chairs to get some snacks. The rest of the crew was standing there. Ri asked “when are we going home?” 

I could have screamed. They’d been begging to head here for a week and within an hour they were asking when we would leave. 

Deep breath. 

I smiled and said through my clenched teeth “not for a while – go have fun.” To their credit, I was rather annoyed with the place, too. They did not have enough tubes so you had to wait for people to give them up. This took forever because everyone knew they would be hard to get so they refused to give them up. Ri and Alana finally got one but then lost it when they had to go to the bathroom. Mario and Gio nabbed one illegally, I believe, but by that time it was no holds barred and I turned a blind eye….



By the time 5 pm hit, I had to admit that as much as it pained me to have spent the money I spent on tickets for the entire day (until 9 pm), I was ready to go. The kids were, too. So we rounded up our soaken things and headed home for a sleepover. When I asked the kids if they had fun, they yelled “yea!” and I decided to take that answer and run with it. We will forget the whining to come home and remember the joy of the slides. I told them if they thought the waterpark was fun to wait until they went to the Easter Egg hunt the next morning in Grandview. Ri and Mario told Alana and Gio about it and how many eggs were on the ground. Everyone shouted the number of eggs they’d get “10” “20” “100!”

We woke up Saturday morning and drove down to the park at 9:45. 5-7 year olds were right by the 8-10 year olds. Gio wanted to go with the 8 year olds since he’s 8 but Mario wanted Gio to stand next to him in the 7 year old ring. When Gio refused, Mario got irritated. And the irritation only blossomed. 

We spoke on the way down to the park about the $25 egg. Each year, one egg has a $25 savings bond in it. All the kids were predicting that they’d get it. But Mario especially wanted it. So when the hunt began, rather than diving into the eggs and swooping up as many as he could, he stared at them to see if he could see the $25 in one of them. By the time he reached down to pick one up, all the other kids had taken them. He ended up with one egg.


And that one simply had a mini Milky Way bar in it, a candy bar he hates. It was not pretty. He stomped away from all of us and pouted on the picnic table. Then the woods. I finally was able to get near him and explained to him that all the other kids only got three or four eggs so don’t sweat it.

“I hate Easter and I hate hunts. I never want to do one again!” 

Meanwhile, Ri and her cousins were scarfing down their loot. Mario finally headed back towards them after I allowed him to say a curse word under his breath. Worst mom of the year? He livened up after that word and we ended up having a great morning at the park and eating candy (so it was well worth it).



And don’t you know when we went to Grandma Ionno’s house the next day, he jumped at the chance to participate in another Easter Egg hunt.  Sometimes you just gotta let the moment ride out and what ends up happening is that it’s all fine in the end.


Coloring our Easter eggs


34 colors eggs – some with vibrant colors, others with plastic design wrap, others with sunset colors. All cranked out in a two hour time frame on Friday night: the start of Spring Break for Ri and Mario. They were mad I didn’t have more eggs.

Mario got super into the coloring this year. You see the bright pink one on the left? Mario made that one and when I gasped at how bright it was, he lit up. He had a mission to make more bright pink ones. At first I thought this was an act of love and tribute to his mom. Then he said this to Ri as they worked:

“I bet I could sell the hot pink ones for $5.”

Maria just shook her head, and then said: “Mario, these are for our family and friends.” Mario shook his head at what he viewed as an absurd comment. If there’s a possibility to make some cash, why not grab it?!

They set up the kitchen bench against the counter and both stood on it to color their eggs. They placed two chairs behind the bench. They used those as the “break room.” Each one had to take a five minute break to rest. After a couple breaks, Mario didn’t want anymore. He was too into egg coloring. Ri got upset about this decision. 

“Mom, it’s a rule we both agreed to do and he has to abide by it.” Luckily, we were about finished with the coloring so Ri let it go – she’s a stickler about rules. Soon they were playing hospital on the chairs: Ri was scraping the end of a pencil on Mario’s arm to get rid of the poison in him and Mario enjoyed the challenge of not screaming in pain. Weirdos. 

But back to the eggs. I’ve been coloring eggs with the kids since Ri was two. It is one of my favorite traditions with them: first because it’s chill and they get along so well admiring their eggs, and second because I have no artistic ability but somehow I feel I’ve created masterpieces when I dye these eggs fabulous colors. 



Now the question is how we will eat all of these before they go bad? Egg sandwiches, egg salads, egg sundaes? 

Easter 2014

I love that M&M still want to color Easter eggs. I love that they see magic in a dull white egg popping with color after being lifted from a cup. I love that Mario couldn’t wait to get my attention every twenty seconds in order to show me the newest color he produced on his egg. I love that Ri experiments by placing her egg in every color until it forms a dull brown and instead of getting mad, she just tries again and then lays down and places two dull ones on her eyes like some new age hippy.




I love these moments together simply absorbing the joys of creating a magnificent yellow egg and a glittering purple one. No worries about finishing homework or responding to email – simply appreciating the beauty of bright pastels. I am going to miss these moments when the kids grow up and no longer have any desire to color eggs with their mom. Instead, they will be out with friends and waking up at noon. But alas, I need to stay in the moment so back to Easter weekend.
We woke Saturday morning to head down Grandview hill to the Easter Egg hunt. There were little, sweet babes dressed up in pastels standing in awe of the live Easter Bunny. I remember Ri and Mario at age 3 and 1 pointing at the Bunny and pulling me over to see him. I remember how excited they were to find eggs and cookies (yes, Grandview puts out sleeves of Oreos) scattered around the park. They still have the excitement in finding eggs – not so much in the Bunny. But I still made them take a picture…

They have their friends there now and they “hang” with them pre-hunt over pictures with mom.


It’s a different joy I feel at this age seeing them wrestle and giggle with friends. I’m glad they are establishing friendships and experiencing all the emotions that come with them.
They are both loyal and caring to their friends; they even distributed their Oreos to them (that’s the ultimate sign of friendship at this age).

We spent an hour at the park after the hunt watching the kids play around and talk to friends. When we finally hit the road, it was the usual combination. Ri and Sophie scootered home with me and Mario drove home with Rick and the boys. Sophie and Ri scootered home with Zach who Ri has known since kindergarten. It’s hilarious to see the boy/girl dynamic at play. Little flirting here, little jabbing there. A lot different then kindergarten.
After we had eaten a majority of the Easter candy at the hunt, we decided it would be best to top it off with some Jeni’s ice cream. Mistake.
Jeni’s is so rich – two dips of that combined with Reese’s and chocolate bunnies led to serious stomach aches. We sat on the bench for a while before walking home.

We burned off some of the chocolate playing ultimate frisbee. Ri is really good at it. She’s always picked up on the adventure, off-the-beaten path sports. Mario is good, too but Ri has the hand flick down pat.
We woke Sunday morning to two kids at the end of the bed urging us to get up.
“Let’s see if the Easter Bunny came!” As I stated earlier, I do love this age but sometimes it’s annoying at 6:45 am…. Jon and I got up and headed down with them. I had hid the eggs in the house since the kids are too old for Jon to be able to hold them at bay while I go down in the morning to hide them outside. This year, I put $5 and a few $1 bills in the eggs because Mario is much more into money than candy. They hunted the eggs down within four minutes and then sat on the couch looking through their baskets.





Rocco even scored a rawhide from the Bunny.

You’d think we would have learned from our mistake at Jeni’s but we didn’t. Ri and I made chocolate chip waffles for breakfast to add to our chocolate feast. Then we got our fine Easter clothes on (shorts and t-shirts) and headed to Laura’s house, which used to be Grandma Heile’s house, which used to be where I hunted eggs when I was a girl. However, I never had the chance at a $5 egg like Ri and Mario and Grace and Dakota have now. It’s a big rivalry every year – who will get the $5 egg. Grace held the honors last year so we were ready to take over this year. We didn’t disappoint – Mario got it. And was very excited.




Ri rocked out an Aunt Laura tank top and wig for the hunt. She’s always up for a twist. And it wouldn’t be a Heile Easter without some volleyball. It used to be softball but a few years back it switched over to volleyball and there are some good players in our family. Of course, Robert and Cy have the height advantage but we all hold our own. Even Ri and Mario like to get in the game. Ri just likes to talk smack but Mario wants the ball to come to him so he can hit it.


I always leave these Heile parties without a voice and exhausted, and that’s not a bad thing. I love this crew to the moon and back: my aunts and uncles helped raise me and I helped raise all these cousins of mine who are now 20 something’s and full of Heile energy.


On the drive home, I felt full of joy…and chocolate Easter eggs.


Easter 2013

Maria was more excited about Easter this year than Christmas. For the last three days before Easter she kept wondering what the Bunny might bring her. I never thought she cared much about the baskets that I create for them each year but I was wrong. As we sat at the table writing letters to the Easter Bunny, she said “I want to say something to her (I love that she treats the Easter Bunny as a girl – my progressive-minded girl) but I don’t want to sound greedy.”

“What are you asking her?”

“I’m asking her to please bring a basket for me and Mario again this year.”

“We’ll, I don’t think that is unreasonable to ask. Just ask it politely.”

So she wrote “P.S. Would you consider bringing a basket to me and Mario?”

I love that girl. She really is a thoughtful little soul. When Mario acted up later in the evening, I told him the Bunny was watching. He could have cared less. So I got more firm with him. Ri started sniffling. I asked what was the matter and she muffled her words “I don’t want my brother to not get a basket.” She watches over that boy.

She left out a cup of milk and cheese for the Bunny. She couldn’t find carrots. Then she went promptly up to her room so the Bunny would come. Mario stayed downstairs. I kept swearing that one day the Bunny would not come because he didn’t go to bed on time. All I can say is he knows he’s got a sucker for a mom and I would never let that happen.

And sure enough, even though he didn’t go upstairs until 10 with Jon, the Easter Bunny somehow managed to fix up two awesome baskets with bug catchers, a Katy Perry CD, Skylanders, clothes, sunglasses, and chocolate bunnies, of course.

The Bunny gave me written instructions to hide the eggs since he couldn’t hide them outside with the rain. The kids tore through the downstairs and the hunt ended in two minutes. They wanted those baskets.







I had to give $5 in an egg to each of them because we missed the Heile Easter egg hunt where there is always the possibility of finding the $5 egg (Grace was the sole participant this year so she got lucky). They were high on candy within 10 minutes (how fast can Mario down peanut butter cups? Three in a minute).

I still don’t know what to think about Ri and her belief in the Easter Bunny. With as old as she acts, I can’t believe she still believes. But then she gets so excited about Easter and writes a letter to her and leaves out food that I think she must believe. But then again, on Easter morning when Mario pulled out a Skylander and I said stupidly “I thought you’d like that one” she quickly interjected”you mean the Easter Bunny, don’t you, mom?” with a coy smile on her face. She keeps me guessing. Mario doesn’t give it much thought as long as there are gifts and money in his basket.

After finding eggs, we headed to Marion for Easter brunch. Nothing like filling yourself up with bacon, ham, creamy macaroni and hash browns before diving into brownies and chocolate peeps. Why aren’t elastic sweatpants allowed at brunch?

Carrie and Gio had to stay home because Gio was sick but we got Alana for the day. Mario enjoys playing with her as much as Gio. Grandma Ionno had eggs ready to be hunted and the kids got treated to more candy and another $5 egg. I’ve never made $10 bucks that easy.




The kids visited the mama and papa geese near Patty’s bridge. The papa squawked at us to stay away from his woman and babies and Mario had to tell us the story of him and Grandma getting chased by the papa two weeks ago. Then the kids rapped on the rocks (much to Uncle Patrick’s dismay – I told him we’d sing hard rock next time).


Mario crashed on the ride home but woke up when we got close to home begging to see Quinn. I told him they weren’t home from their aunt’s house yet and he got so mad. “You promised we could see them, mom!” He is all about keeping promises lately. I explained to him that I said we could see them if they were home. He surprisingly understood and sat quiet. I need to be very careful with my promises from now on because as long as I don’t promise something I know may not happen, he seems ok.

He ended up having a good night with his family. We took a scooter walk and played football. And ate a ton more chocolate Easter bunnies.

Kids kids and more kids

There is no way I could be the Duggers. Aren’t they the family with 18 or so kids? We agreed to take the neighbors’ three kids on Wednesday night so they could drive an hour away to get a car. Holy cow. Jon and I were ready for two straight days of sleep after three and a half hours with them. And they don’t even need that much oversight. I think it’s just the sheer fact that you know they are all in the house and you have to be on constant alert for fighting or cuts or spilled anything. It’s taxing. We are so glad that they are on our street because its great for M&M to have play mates so close and it’s heart-warming to see them all play so well and so long together (I remember weekends with my girlfriend Beth – we met up at 9 am and didn’t stop until sundown). But after a while, everyone needs a break (except Mario who would play with Quinn for 72 hours straight and still be wired).

Wednesday night entailed dinner, hide-n-seek, cards, spying, superheroes, make believe, barbies (the boys played barbies much to my excitement), and wrestling (the girls won). We didn’t turn on the tv until 9 pm and that was only with the hopes of turning out the lights and getting them tired. It worked for one kid – Maria. The boys played Slinkie on the stairs until our neighbors arrived at 9:30. Jon and I flopped in bed and were snoring within ten minutes.

Today, I went for an early run because we had our Easter Egg Hunt down the street at 10 am. I got home at 9:20 and Sophie and Quinn were in our yard on their bike and scooter by 9:30 ready to go. They now feel completely comfortable just coming on down. At least they still knock. Again, most of me loves that the kids have these close buddies but I also need some alone time with my babies here and there. But you can’t blame them for being excited – it’s the Eater Egg Hunt for heaven’s sake. Rick drove the boys down and I took the girls on their scooters (I refuse to drive to the hunt; it’s tradition to walk every year).


Ri and Sophie cranked it on their scooters. I can’t believe how fast Ri rides and the way she can crouch down on it while riding. She may not have coordination in organized sports but she can rock it out on scooters, rock climbing, and trampolines.

As always, I wanted my annual Easter picture of Ri and Mario and pictures of them with their friends. Ri abided but Mario refused. I had to threaten no play date with Quinn and even then it wasn’t the big Mario smile I love. He hates pictures any more (but he still wants to be famous).





Mario was all about going for the plastic eggs over the Oreos and cookies because I told him the eggs may have money in them. I shouldn’t have even went there with him because he freaked when all he got was candy in the eggs. And he only managed getting four eggs out of the mix. I don’t understand how that happened with his speedy self. Ri could care less about the entire ordeal – she’s just in it to have fun with her friends (and lift them off the ground with every hug).

After the hunt, the boys went back with Rick to play Skylanders and my active girls came with me to Stauf’s and CVS. While at CVS, the girls wanted to get a $15 cat house for Sophie’s cat, Lemon. I told Ri she could use her money if she wanted. With Mario, there would have been no way but Ri bought it. She is such a generous soul. They went home and shot into Sophie’s house to see how Lemon would like it. When they shot in, the boys shot out and headed down to our house with me trailing behind.

Continuing the Madness…

Easter morning

We stuffed ourselves on Saturday.  Absolutely stuffed between the corn casserole, the brownies, the potato salad.  So, what else is there to do but continue the gluttony on Easter Sunday?  The kids woke up in a bit of a stupor from our long day on Saturday but within about eight minutes, the day hit them. 

“Is it Easter?  Did the Easter Bunny come here? Are there eggs downstairs?”

It had rained all night so the back yard was soaked.  Jon kept the kids in bed while I ran downstairs to hide the eggs and put out their baskets.  I had done the baskets Friday night knowing that I would be exhausted Saturday night.  As I was placing the last few eggs on the bookcase and piano, the kids started shuffling downstairs asking if they could begin the hunt.  They found their baskets in the corner of the dining room – Maria screamed when she saw Justin Bieber stickers and Mario jumped around the room when he discovered mini transformers.  Maria moved onto the “hidden” eggs (not so hidden when you are talking about three rooms downstairs with very little furniture) and found all of her eggs within two minutes.  Mario took his time on the eggs front because those new transformers were way too enticing.  

After the hunt came the best part – opening each egg to eat up the contents.  I had packed Maria’s eggs full of skittles, gumballs and NERDS (she enjoys those sweet candies like her Aunt Sarah).  I packed Mario all chocolate – M&M’s, snickers, and reese’s (he is his mother’s child).  Everytime Mario looked away, I snatched another chocolate.   

Jon’s parents and brothers came over at 11 am and we headed to brunch at Bravo’s restaurant.  The kids hung on their  cousin Peter, the entire time.  They were fascinated with him (age 16) just like they are with their Heile boy cousins(age 16 and 17).  Luckily, Peter is about as low-key as the Heile boys so he allowed them to climb on him, lead him through our house, and show him their toys.  When we returned home, Mario begged to play Peter in a game of b-ball on Wii.  While they played, the gals (Maria, Patty, Debbie and me) walked to Giant Eagle to grab a bag of ice.  We talked about Jon’s dad, about moving to Columbus, about kids.  It was nice to break away and have that alone time together.  Maria did a good job walking with us and listening to us talk – she is getting more mature in that arena lately.  She used to butt in every two seconds in the past but now she enjoys listening and adding in her two cents when she sees fit. 

When we got home from the store, Mario had moved the men to the outside to play “live” basketball. He showed us his dunks while Maria came out and showed us her new sandals.  I had taken her there to get me a pair of gym shoes.  When we walked in, however, Maria immediately dragged me over to the high heels section.  She selected about three different heels that were over an inch high and that I have only seen in the movies on prostitutes.  She loved them.  To her despair, I moved directly to the gym shoe area.  I led her to the girls’ shoes and soon she returned with a pair of black heels on her feet.  They almost fit her perfectly, and she begged to purchase them (I am so hoping that this a phase that ends by the time she is 7).  She chose about 4 other shoes before she came out with the turquoise sandals, which we finally agreed upon. 

After chowing down on Patty’s awesome chocolate chip cookies and turtles, we hit the road for the Heile soiree, aka the Madhouse.  Poor Jon is still not used to the ruckus that inevitably occurs when us Heile women get together but he continues to hang in there be the good sport that he is (typically sitting off in the corner with my uncle to talk about hunting).  My darlin’ girl cousins love on Maria and Mario picking them up, squeezing them, kissing them and giving them raspberries all over those round bellies – just like the treatment I received from my aunts when I was little.  Maria relishes in the time that she gets with her second cousins (who we call aunts just because second cousins seems way too distant).  They include her in anything they do which included this holiday sitting on the back of my uncle’s truck listening to music and chatting about boys, clothes, friends, and shoes – right up Maria’s alley.  Mario has made the conscious choice to turn his attention to the boy cousins because they spend their time playing basketball.  He hangs in there with ’em trying to make a shot even if the net is ten times his size.  One day he will show them all up. 

We chowed down on more ham, more potato salad, more deviled eggs, and a new twist – baked beans (a Heile tradition)!  Dairy Queen ice cream cake for dessert, too.  Pure heaven.  We had our traditional easter egg hunt that used to be at least 9 kids strong but that was before all of the cousins grew up and turned into 20 somethings.  Now we only have four kids participating – Maria and Mario, Baby Grace, and Konner.  Everyone wants to get the $5.o0 egg each year, and although all the kids get the same amount of eggs each year, it is still a race to get your number the quickest.  Maria got all nine of hers and Mario only had 8.  Konner had 7 and Grace was finished.  Everyone was helping Konner and Mario find the remaining eggs.  One of the cousins found one and called for Mario to race over.  Konner started heading that way, and Maria tackled him to the ground in order to help her baby brother (the reason she gives at least).  When it comes to eggs, they go to no lengths to help each other.  Baby Grace ended up with the $5.00 egg for a second year in a row much to Maria’s disappointment.  Maria had a major breakdown last year when Grace got the egg; this year we had a talk about how to act if Grace won (be graceful and grateful that she won because she is a baby and needs diapers!) and indeed, she took the $5.00 “loss” like a champ. 

The rain started to grow heavy after the hunt, and the party moved indoors except for Mario and the boys who continued to shoot in the steady downpour.  Mario walked in the house fifteen minutes later sopping wet and completely uncomfortable.  “Mom, take off my shoes and my clothes.  I am all wet and need to be dry.”  He could not stand being wet, and refused to put his shoes back on throughout the night.  He did enjoy running around the living room in only his undies.  Maria again used her tackling skills to get him under control and move him back into the bedroom to get dressed. 

We left the Heile house with cousin Maggie in the car (hitchhiking a ride back to Columbus) and Madagascar on the movie screen.  Maria lasted about 30 minutes before crashing.  Mario and Maggie hung in throughout the trip home.  We unloaded all of the easter treats in the house and I spent 20 minutes picking through easter candies to eat promising myself that the candy remaining on Monday morning would be given away at work.  Of course, I sit here tonight eating a reese cup and a chocolate bunny swearing that I will get rid of the candy tomorrow.  Yeah….

Family, Ham and Chocolate

Mario’s game face
M & M getting ready for the hunt!

I love Easter.  It is my favorite holiday for two reasons: (1) I adore chocolate and there is a ton of it between the easter egg hunts, the grandparents, and me splurging on it “for the kids’ baskets;” and (2) people seem to be more relaxed on Easter – less frantic about presents, meals, attire.  Easter comes right at the time of a new season – winter cold is gone and grass is turning green.  People are excited about being outside again. 

We celebrated Easter today out at the farm.  The forecast called for rain all weekend with strong thunderstorms at times.  When we woke up this morning, the sky was grey and dreary but had promise to it.  Patches of yellow and blue broke through in the sky, and I had a feeling during my morning run that we would be spared.  I was right.  The Grandview Easter Egg Hunt began at 10 am with soggy grass underfoot but no rain showers.  Maria’s nightmare came true when she heard that 5-7 year olds were grouped together (“I will never get as many eggs as 7 years olds).  However, she perked back up when she met up with her friend Anna and her grandma.  I stood with Mario in the 2-4 year old group coaching him about how to engage in the hunt (“pick up the eggs first – not the bags of oreos and cookies”).  He put his game face on after my speech, and anxiously awaited for the announcer to yell “GO!”  What comes over me and other parents at these easter egg hunts?  We are so competitive following our kids around the area pointing frantically at eggs that we see.  When the kid is looking in the opposite direction, we yell “Mario, look!  Mario!  Mario, over here!  Mario!!!”  Mario ended up with more eggs than Maria, which led to Maria frowning and complaining that she did not get “any” eggs even though she had three in her basket.  Her friend gave her two of her eggs, which led to 180 degree change in Maria who smiled from ear to ear.  the kids sat down to open their eggs, and Mario promptly gave me the first chocolate candy piece he opened.  What a doll.  I had told him how much I loved easter chocolate and he had told me that he would share his with me.  However, I was not going to believe it until I saw it.  And there it was.  He does love his mama!  Maria, on the other hand, gave me a stern look when I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from her basket.  “Mom, this is my food.”  She is so generous when it comes to other things but not her food!

We rushed home after the hunt and hopped in the car to the farm.  Within five minutes of walking in the door, Maria and Mario and their cousins found the baby chicks.  Tiny and precious and so delicate.  Just what three and five-year olds need to handle.  But Grandma Meg managed to let all of the kids hold them without incident.  Mario chanted “Calm, calm” to the chick while he held it.  Maria acted like she was a vet while she held one asking me what was wrong with my baby chick.  They were infatuated at first sight.  Maria and Anneliese, her 8 year old cousin, played beautifully together.  Surprisingly, Mario and his three-year old cousin, Ben, also played together for the first time ever.  In the past, they were into their own things (and still at that young age where you don’t play much with other kids) but this time they were by each others’ sides for most of the day.  Ben would yell for Mario and Mario would run to him.  Mario would ask Ben to get something for him and Ben would get it.  They threw stones in the stream for 30 minutes and talked about being in the army while they rode the rocking horses.  They used croquet clubs as hammers and swords.  Boys.  Maria and Anneliese held the chicks a lot and walked Rosie and played in the stream.  Tomgirls – yeah! 

We ate yummy ham and potato salad and deviled eggs and corn casserole and butter rolls.  Patty’s potato salad won everyone over with people going up for thirds!  I swear I am going to enter her p. salad into a contest – it will undoubtedly take first place.  Desserts made my stomach larger just looking at them – brownies, cookies, shortcake, chocolate cake, lemon bars in addition to all of the Easter candy!  Oh, how I love this holiday! But, oh, how I wish I had some sort of will power.  I get on Maria about eating too much but then I stand around the table eating 3 brownies, cake, candy and cookies.  I blame those Menkedick genes that cannot resist chocolate (unless you are supernatural like my father).  My 91 year-old grandmother devoured the desserts just like me so I think I am doomed.  

The kids got to ride the horses towards the end of the day and then got treated to a stellar easter egg hunt.  There is part of me that still wants to participate in those hunts – I see an egg hiding in the fence post and I get so excited.  I was a damn good egg finder back in my day….  We finished up the afternoon holding the chicks some more and chatting with family that we don’t see as often as we would like.  Maria would love to have Anneliese closer and Mario and Ben would have a blast together now that they are the ripe old age of three.  Grandma M. is strong as ever, carrying on conversation and watching the kids play.  I wish I lived closer to her so we could see her more often even though she even states that having M&M over any more often would seriously wear her out.  She has got to be kidding – my kids are little angels…! 

In sum, a great start to a holiday weekend.  The farm is a gem, and Meg did an awesome job hosting us all.  Dad did an awesome job entertaining the kids (even though he allowed Mario to fall in the stream!).  And the rest of us just soaked in the beauty of a wet Spring day.

Easter Madness

M & M hit the Easter Egg Hunt


We started our Easter weekend with a trip to Grandview’s Wyman Woods for the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday at 10:00 am.  We had some friends ready to “take us on” in the hunt so we had to prep ourselves up beforehand with stretches and lunges and body jabs.  We will do anything for chocolate, after all.  Especially chocolate easter bunnies with their cute little faces that you can bite off.  There had to be two hundred kids there, some dressed up in bunny ears or tails, some still in their pjs, some in their “Sunday best” to have their picture taken with the freak mammoth bunny in the corner of the park all dressed up in pink and white and bouncing around waving at the kids (and surely cussing every other second about how hot the damn outfit was or how obnoxious the kids are).  

The kids were very patient waiting behind the line while staring at all of the Oreo packages, Reese Peanut Butter Egg packages, and brightly colored eggs with loads of candy inside of them. Finally, the whistle blew and they were off.  Well, the four-year olds were off.  The hunt was for 2 to 4 year olds.  The 2 year olds seemed loss in a daze or a stupor.  “Why are all of these kids running around like maniacs picking litter off the ground?”  But, that was taken care of in a few seconds as all of the parents of these 2 year olds (including moi) started yelling at them: “Over here. Get this one. Hurry!”  

Mario digging in


You would have thought that a check for college tuition was in the egg rather than a hershey kiss.  Mario 

Ri enjoying that chocolate


managed to get a few eggs, which he proceeded to open and devour every piece of chocolate he found in them.  Bill, one of our friends, gently approached Mario and asked him for a piece of chocolate.  

“NO!” Mario yelled at him.  “This is my candy.”  

Maria, on the other hand, took two whole packages of Oreo cookies and gave one to Bill and another to Heather who had mentioned that she loved those cookies.  What a sweetheart – hopefully, Mario will learn from her!  

Both M & M made the wise choice of not seeing the Easter Bunny.  We went home and showed off our candy to dad who just shook his head knowing that belly aches were surely to come (and not just to the kids!).  Later that night, we visited Grandma and Grandpa Ionno and Jon’s brother and sister-in-law and their two boys.  Maria has a complete crush on both the boys and hung on them all night (they, in turn, played with her as much as they did not want to at times – god love ’em).  Mario enjoyed playing with the older boy’s nerf gun and pretending he was being shot (lovely boys).  Grandma Ionno made her killer cookies, as always.  Why is it so hard to just eat a couple?  I devoured a dozen through the evening alongside Maria who has inherited my love for eating.    

Off to the Hunt


On Sunday, we woke up to another egg hunt but this one at our very own house.  I set out the eggs while Jon held the hunters at bay upstairs.  M&M ran out in their pjs just as I remember doing as a little girl and as I remember Sarah doing as a young girl.  The enthusiasm and excitement I felt as a little girl on Easter morning came back watching Maria and Mario hunt around for their eggs.  I loved seeing their face beam as they found an egg.  Oh, the memories!  

Maria finding "My Little Pony!"


Mario showing it off


We then took off for Cincy at 9:30 am.  We first went to my cousin Kerry’s house.  She lives in northern Cincy with her husband and two kids.  They are fairly close in age to M&M with Anneliese being 6 and Ben being 2.  Maria idolizes Anneliese, and loves to go to her house because she has a kickin’ toy room.  Mario enjoys Ben’s ball collection, and he loved the sticks and trees in the backyard.  My uncle made the most incredible coffee cake for brunch and pecan chocolate pie.  He has the Menkedick sweet tooth just like me.  We envied their house because it has so much open space and light and an awesome family room in the basement.  Oh, what I would give for a family room!  Dad and Meg brought Duke along (their new dog), which caused much glee in M&M who have been waiting to meet him for a whole week (“it felt like a year, mom!”).  

Maria and Anneliese enjoying the swing


After eating way too much food (including insanely gorgeous red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing ala Meg-pie), we hopped in the truck to head to Grandma Heile’s house (now owned by my cousin Laura since Grandma died last Summer).  Maria was all excited because she had on a gorgeous Easter dress that she knew all of her girl cousins were adore (she loves dressing up for them because they ogle over her all day!).  Mario was excited because Robert and Cy, our high school boy cousins, would be there and he could stand in awe of them playing basketball and toss the ball with them.   Maria got the attention she expected and she even scored some potato salad from Aunt Jane (her absolute favorite food after pasta and meatballs!).  Mario got to throw the volleyball to us after each play (although he would only throw it to Robert most times).  

We had yet another Easter Egg hunt in the big side yard and 

The chosen few for the egg hunt


Baby Grace (my cousin Liz’s sweet baby daughter) got the $5 egg (it is tradition to put out one egg with $5 in it).  When Maria found out, she plopped down on the grass and pouted “I wanted that egg.”  I explained to her that it is fun to see Baby Grace get it; besides, she needs diapers and that will help buy them.  Somehow, that explanation resonated with her and she agreed it was best for Baby Grace to get the $5.  Anyway, it meant more candy for her!   

Maria nabbing the eggs


Speaking of candy, that is simply all Mario cared about and frantically opened his eggs yelling “Candy Party” each time more candy fell out.  I am surprised that he was not constipated for five days from all the chocolate he devoured.  

We left Laura’s house at 8:30 pm and headed back to Columbus.  The kids were nearly comatose in the backseat staring at the tv. I was picking through the Easter baskets unwrapping random candies and plopping them in my mouth until my belly did start to ache.  Jon drove us all home safely.  It was a busy, magical weekend. 

Mario basking in the chocolate

Coloring eggs

Maria showing off her soon to be colored egg

Coloring easter eggs has been one of my favorite past times both as a kid and as a 20 something adult.  I vaguely remember coloring them as a child but I do remember hunting for them – their bright primary colors bursting out at me from behind grandma’s chair, nestled next to a plant, under a big oak tree.  The thrill of finding a brightly colored egg far exceeded anything else in the day (except for maybe the foot tall solid chocolate bunny).  Now I get to transfer my thrill to my daughter who developed a passion for egg coloring starting last year in my mother’s kitchen.  My mom bought an easter egg coloring kit for her.  I was hesitant at first.  All of the cups filled with water, easily cracked eggs, color dye everywhere.  But, we were at my mom’s house so what the hey?!  Maria loved it.  She colored each of her eggs with pride and wrote on them and put stickers on them and treated them like fragile Waterford crystal.  Hence, a tradition was born.

Maria spotted the easter egg coloring kit about a week after Valentine’s Day (yes, god love the retail shops with their easter items packed in stores the day after Valentine’s Day – just keep those holidays coming for our businesses).  We bought the kit, and I was able to keep it up on the shelf for a few weeks before we decided that we just had to color some eggs.  We decided that we would color some this early in order to get out enough eggs to all of our friends and family before easter.  Maria begged me to start the process as soon as we came home from school tonight but I stalled as I picked up all of the poop outside in our backyard (I do have my priorities straight!).  I kept pumping Maria up as I picked up the dog’s remnants so that when we walked inside, Maria was ready to go.  Damn, I forgot you had to hard boil the eggs before you colored them!  Ugh.  That was a mistake.  Maria broke down believing that it would take all night to boil the eggs and we would NEVER be able to color the eggs.  Meanwhile, I filled the pot with water, got the water boiling, and placed the eggs in the pot.  By that time, Maria had found the stickers in the box and the dye pills.  I got her working on filling the cups with water and by the time she finished that task, our eggs were ready (always the key – keep them busy so they don’t have time to stew!).  Maria placed one dye pill in each cup watching the pill slowly dissolve and commentating on what color the water was becoming. 

Mario and his own works of art

Meanwhile, her brother cut his construction paper and drew his “letters”.  He asks me what letter to draw, I state “A” or “J” or “B” and he acts like he is drawing the letter.  Actually, the other day I looked down after telling him to draw a “M” and he had drawn what looked to resemble a “M”!  He may be getting it – god knows he talks like a four-year old so he may as well start drawing letters like one.  He had no interest in coloring the eggs, which came as relief since trying to watch the water cups, the eggs, and two hyper kids would have been a little much. 

Maria was very concerned about cracking the egg while she placed it in the cup so I assisted her on most of them.  We waited patiently for the color to soak onto the egg-shell.  Maria would pick one out (with her hands of course), give it a scrutinizing review, and then place it back in the water for a little more coloring.  Finally, she had enough of the waiting, and decided that no matter what color they were, it was just the right color for her.  They dried pretty quickly and she began writing our names and hearts and designs.  She wasn’t too into the stickers (I don’t think we ever got stickers with our kit) but she liked the little round egg holders that came with the

Maria modeling her creation (and yes, she was trying to "model")

kit.  She placed them gently in the holders after she finished her creation.  She had a minor meltdown toward the end when we only had a yellow and two blue eggs left and Grandma, who was talking to Jon, asked if she would make her an orange one.  She fell to the floor after looking up on the counter and not finding an orange egg: “Oh, no, mom, Grandma wants an orange egg and I don’t have one for her!” She sobbed hysterically and repeated “NO” each time I tried to come up with an alternative.  Finally, I realized that we still had the cups of dyed water so I threw the pale yellow egg in the red cup and viola, we had an orange.  I knew that science class which explained color mixing would come in handy some day.  Maria immediately popped back to life and got that little orange egg all spruced up for Grandma and Grandpa.   

I think the hysterical sobbing wore her out because after the orange egg, she left the other two to head into the living room with the boys.  And there we have it, the 2010 easter season has officially begun in the household.  The blue eggs lead the pack with four, pink eggs with two, purple eggs with two, green eggs with two, and orange egg with 1.  Thank goodness for Grandma – she added a little more color to our world.         

M&M expressing their disdain with having to clean up after egg coloring and art time